Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Working it out for yourself: the ommitting conclusions technique

Aldi advert

This is an example of one advert in the series of the ad campaign launched by Aldi recently. The adverts typically show an individual pointing at one product saying “I like this product” and then pointing to a similar product and saying “I like this product too”. The first product will be shown with a higher price tag and from a competitor supermarket whilst the second product will be shown with a lower price tag and from Aldi. This is the sum total of the advert. This advert is thus using a persuasion technique known as ‘Omitting Explicit Message Conclusion”.

This technique is thought to be persuasive because it requires the target to draw the conclusion for themselves – in this instance the conclusion being that the target should shop at Aldi because they have similar products at a cheaper price. This process of reaching the conclusion on your own thus acts as a form of self-persuasion.

In order for this technique to work the individual has to have the motivation to process the message. In these adverts the products which are being sold are matched to their target audience, for example an elderly woman is seen to say that she likes the cheaper tea product. Arguably this makes the subject of the advert similar to the target and thus makes them more motivated to process it because it is relevant to them.

Sawyer and Howard (1991) have investigated the “Omitting the Explicit Message Conclusion” effect.  Participants were presented with a booklet of adverts, they were told they were acting as pre testers for the effectiveness of new adverts. In fact only one of the adverts was important.  The conditions were manipulated such that half the participants had adverts which gave open ended conclusions e.g. you’ve heard the facts decide for yourself which you think is better or closed conclusions e.g. you’ve heard the facts now buy this product. Subjects either saw a toothbrush advert or a razor advert as the test advert. Involvement and interest of the participants in the product was manipulated by telling them that as a reward for taking part they would get to choose a razor or toothbrush to take home. Therefore those who saw a razor advert and were told that their reward would be a razor were highly involved in the advert whilst those who saw a toothbrush advert and were told the same thing showed low involvement in the razor advert. The same manipulation was carried out for those who saw the toothbrush advert. Participants then answered questions about purchase intention, attitude and choice in order to assess the amount that they had been persuaded.

Sawyer and Howard (1991) found that the open ended conclusion to the adverts were more persuasive when the audience was involved with the advert and motivated to draw their own conclusions. This is demonstrated in Table 1. With involved participants in the open ended condition showing the highest attitude toward the brand at 6.9.

Uninvolved participants
Involved participants
Close ended advert
Open ended advert
Close ended advert
Open ended advert
Attitude toward the brand
Table 1: demonstrates the amount of persuasion incited by different forms of advert, also dependent on involvement in the message

If the Aldi advert can be said to successfully involve the audience then it is likely that their omission of the conclusion will have had the same effect in the advert as it did in the research. The Aldi advert has attempted to involve the audience by making the character in the advert similar to the target audience of the product. The Aldi advert does not include a conclusion that viewers should buy a product from them and this acts as an open ended advert and according to research should produce higher attitude toward the brand.

Sawyer, A. G., & Howard, D. J. (1991). Effects of omitting conclusions in advertisements to involved and uninvolved audiences. JMR, Journal of Marketing Research, 28(4), 467.

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